An employment gap is just one of many red flags an employer will look for when reviewing a resume. It is important to understand, however, the difference between an employment gap versus job hopping. A job hopper may not have had gaps in employment, however, has held numerous jobs. An employment gap, however, indicates a period of time in which the applicant was unemployed. While neither looks particularly good on a resume, explaining a gap in employment requires a different type of response.
Employment gaps due to school
This is probably the easiest answers response to provide. Furthering your education to increase job knowledge and skills is a worthwhile commitment. Whether it is to take specific courses or to obtain a Bachelor or Associate Degree, feel confident in sharing this information with the interviewer. Make sure the school dates correspond with the unemployment dates on your application or resume.
Employment gaps due to health reasons
Explaining a gap due to health reasons is delicate because of privacy issues. Employers are not allowed to ask you questions concerning your health; however a glaring 12 month employment gap can not go without some sort of explanation. If it is impossible to avoid, you can share you were not working due to health issues. Do not, however, go into any more detail then necessary. If you are applying for job requiring physical labor, an employer would be concerned if you were out due to back issues. A job requiring any amount of physical labor will most likely require a pre-employment physical to make sure you are physically able to perform any required tasks.
Employment gaps due to unemployment
Fortunately, with the current economy this is one of the most frequently occurring gaps in employment. Wide spread unemployment, extreme competition has widened the margin of time between jobs for many people. Given the situation, it would appear this is would actually be the easiest to explain. Think again.
While an employer may excuse a long gap of unemployment there are two factors which weigh heavily into the equation. The first consideration is the reason you left your last job. While layoffs or downsizing are acceptable explanations, terminations or simply quitting are not. The second consideration is how you spent your time while searching for employment.
Consider these two different applicants situations. One applicant states he spent the time looking for a job. The second applicant took classes or perhaps volunteered to keep up their skills. In this case, the interviewer would most likely favor the second applicant, having made better use of their down time. If you find yourself in an extended period of employment, consider how wisely your time is spent.
Employment gaps are a red flag for any hiring manager. Fortunately, many employers will take accept plausible explanations of employment gaps. The important point to remember is whether the employment gap is a month or a year, the explanation should be reasonable.